Heartland lawmaker votes "present" on controversial Iraq bill
By: Crystal Britt
By: Crystal Britt
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Congress heads toward a historic veto showdown with President Bush on the Iraq War. With that, the Senate laid down the gauntlet narrowly passing the Iraq spending bill that also includes a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. It's that timetable that has led President Bush to make his vow to veto the $124 billion bill. Most republicans are backing him up, but others are decidedly not taking sides, including local Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson. The Missouri lawmaker made a rare move on the measure by voting "present", meaning she didn't vote "yes" or "no".
Emerson says, it's her protest. "I'm fed up with the politics on both sides." She's not alone. The war in Iraq" is an ongoing lunch time topic at just about every local diner, including Brenda's Place in Cape Girardeau. "It does seem like a hopeful case over there, I don't see an overall plan for it to get any better", said John Holshauser. "I was really for it to begin with, but my mind has changed because the leadership isn't what it should be as far as I'm concerned", said Debbie Gross. "I think we've gotta support the troops 100%, give them what they need to win, but we need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If we know we can win or we need to set a time frame to get out", said Chris Gross.
Like those locals, Representative Emerson has changed her position on the war. She didn't feel the recent legislative measure was a serious enough attempt to provide funding for troops or, end the war. "You know what, I'm tired of playing those kinds of games. I think the issue is too important for us to try and score points on television or one up each other", said Emerson. But, do her constituents think she made the right move? "If that's her stance, that's her stance, and at this point I don't know if I could vote either direction", said Debbie Gross. "That'd be the best position for her to take right now", said John Holshauser. "I don't know if that was the right way to handle it, she's gotta make a statement if she's our representative, let's make a decision one way or another, not take neutral", said Chris Gross.
Congresswoman Emerson tells Heartland News she understands if some of her constituents might be upset with her decision, but she says there's still plenty of time for her to make a statement one way or another.